Stuck in the Middle with You
Amazing photo by Love Roots Photography
When you leave a meeting with your doctor or midwife, do you feel fantastic? Questions answered, worries allayed, empowered and ready for the next step?
If you're like many of my prenatal yoga clients, the answer isn't always yes. For many women, their choice in maternity care provider was based on a rogue recommendation or internet search, the "preferred" list on an insurance provider page, or the person you were already seeing for your gyn-needs. Sometimes a woman winds up with the provider who was able to accommodate her first prenatal visit in the shortest amount of time. As your visits progress, if you're starting to feel uncomfortable for any reason, it's time to look outside the box.
You may have a misunderstanding of the "rules." Do you think so? Let's check.
Rules About Switching Prenatal Providers in the United States:
1. There are no rules.
Well, that was easy! Often women feel trapped with one provider even though their gut is telling them that the provider isn't the best fit. Sometimes there is nothing wrong with the current provider, but the woman meets another provider and feels so much better about that person that she's tempted to switch. And sometimes there is a poor fit between a woman and her provider and she's (interested in) running for the hills.
How to Decide Whether to Switch:
Visualize Your Birth. It's ok, I'm a yoga teacher, I'm allowed to tell you to visualize your labor and delivery. I promise, you won't hurt yourself. First, visualize with your current provider. Imagine how they will want to interact with you during your labor and delivery. Will they take charge or let you take charge, as you prefer? Will they consult you for options and make sure you are heard, or do what they are accustomed to without asking your permission/opinion? Write down how this imagined birth made you feel. Then, imagine either the provider you'd like to work with or your ideal provider and go through the exercise again. Write. Compare/contrast.
DTR: Define the Relationship. My BFF and I agree that everyone should DTR with everyone they know, weekly. We're borrowing the practice from the Mormon faith, but we think it applies to everyone equally. Before jumping ship and changing providers, have a conversation with your current provider. Tell them what is worrying you and how you'd like them to interact instead. They can tell you whether or not your wishes are possible, and that will give you grounds for a stronger relationship with them, or a new partnership with someone else.
Explore the Green Grass... with a fine toothed comb. In your current state, you might actually think that your newly preferred provider is exactly as you imagine. Before terminating the relationship with your current provider, make an appointment with this new person and DTR with them. Make sure you're getting the interactions that you wanted.
Face Value. Get honest about your reasons for switching, especially if you can't seem to find anyone that lives up to your standards. The cards you've been dealt might limit some of the options you're seeking. For instance, if you are having twins, a home birth isn't going to pan out this time. If you have certain complicating factors, explore all of the options available, but know that no provider will be able to deal you a new deck of cards.
If you decide to make the switch, know that you'll have some paperwork to do. Have a conversation with the office staff for your new provider, your insurance company, and your partner. Make sure you keep clear receipts, get the full copy of your chart and lab work from your previous provider, and keep your perspective focused on what money cannot buy: your (and your baby's) health.
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I'm one of those people who loves making your life easier (and I believe in you). I am an experienced registered prenatal yoga teacher and a lactation educator.
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